Department of Justice Seal


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18, 1998 (202) 514-2008

TDD (202) 514-1888



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Justice, in conjunction with the FBI, the Air Force Office of Special Investigation, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, announced today that the Israeli National Police arrested Ehud Tenebaum, an Israeli citizen, for illegally accessing computers belonging to the Israeli and United States governments, as well as hundreds of other commercial and educational systems in the United States and elsewhere.

The arrest of Tenebaum culminates several weeks of investigation into a series of computer intrusions into United States military systems that occurred in February 1998. As part of this investigation, the Department of Justice formally requested legal assistance from the Israeli Ministry of Justice, and U.S. law enforcement agents traveled to Israel to present Israeli law enforcement officials with evidence of the magnitude and the source of the intrusions into United States computers.

Attorney General Janet Reno said that the prompt arrest of the Israeli hacker demonstrates the effectiveness of international cooperation in cases involving transnational criminal conduct. She added that the U.S. government's efforts to investigate and prosecute computer crime are on the right track:

"This arrest should send a message to would-be computer hackers all over the world that the United States will treat computer intrusions as serious crimes. We will work around the world and in the depths of cyberspace to investigate and prosecute those who attack computer networks," she said.

Although the intrusions into United States military computers were treated as serious incidents, no classified information was ever compromised, and there is no indication that the attacks were part of a organized military or state-sponsored campaign against the United States.

Federal law enforcement officials said that the Israeli government was very cooperative and acted quite promptly when presented with evidence of Tenebaum's activities. As part of this evidence, U.S. investigators also presented the Israelis with evidence of crimes against Israeli computer systems.

Scott Charney, Chief of the Justice Department's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, which helped coordinate the investigation, said that the investigation was substantially advanced by the close cooperation of various law enforcement agencies, as well as by the efforts of prosecutors in several United States Attorneys' offices who provided substantial assistance throughout the investigation.

As part of the investigation, agents of the FBI also searched the homes of two California teenagers who are also believed to be responsible for some of the intrusions into government and commercial computer systems.